Compassionate Allies, Aggressive Advocates

Health care directive saves confusion and painful decision-making

Few people care to dwell on the possibility that they may become seriously ill or incapacitated at some point in their lives. While many would desire that any means be taken to preserve their lives, some have clear convictions about how they want to die and the care they do not desire at that time. For those in Florida who have made firm decisions about the ends of their lives, estate planning is important for making those wishes clear. One element of estate planning that would most benefit them is a health care directive.

A health care directive assigns authority to a trusted individual to make medical decisions in the event the assigner cannot voice his or her wishes. These instructions may include whether to provide nourishment through a tube or whether the person does or does not want to be on life support. Without such documentation, loved ones are often left making critical decisions, and these situations may tear families apart.

In one unusual circumstance, a 70-year-old man came to the emergency room unconscious and in failing health. Under normal conditions, hospital staff would have worked to preserve the man's life. However, upon opening his shirt, they discovered the words, "Do Not Resuscitate" tattooed on his chest along with his signature. The man may have thought he was making his wishes clear, but in fact, it caused tremendous confusion among the medical team and resulted in the need for intervention from an ethics committee.

To protect loved ones from this torment, many seek the advice of a Florida attorney to help them prepare their estate plans. Including a health care directive in one's plan is a compassionate gift for loved ones, sparing them the burden of choosing life or death for a precious family member. An attorney can also offer counsel on other appropriate estate planning tools.

Source: kopitiambot.com, "What to Do When a Patient Has a 'Do Not Resuscitate' Tattoo", Ed Yong, Dec. 18, 2017

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